On Friday, May 10, visionary Afrofuturist hip-hop/soul duo Oshun headlines a free show hosted by our jewel of a community radio station, KCSB-FM 91.9, starting at 6 p.m. in the UCSB Storke Tower radio station courtyard. Joined by rap artists Jaji Preme from Oakland and Jupiter Black from Los Angeles, the all-ages event will expand your musical mind with fresh, future-focused, vibration-raising sounds.

“Jaji Preme, Jupiter Black, and Oshun all offer unique perspectives on their experiences of being black, queer, and femme in today’s society. Their lyricism and video production are critical of politics, gender, spirituality; they artistically convey agency and influence others to choose their own path to expression,” KCSB General Manager Alyssa Saldaña said in a statement.

Oshun vocalists Niambi Sala and Thandiwe met as undergraduates at NYU, and their souls were instantly, creatively entwined. Calling back to Yoruba traditions with contemporary aesthetics, they sing an ancestral song of iya-sol (their own genre, iya meaning “healer/teacher,” and sol meaning “sun/source”). Musically, they carry on the deep-thinking, deep-feeling, politically conscious R&B/hip-hop torch lit by greats such as Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, groovily meditating on gratitude, fortitude, and positive attitudes amid a sensually swirling cosmos. Their debut studio album, bittersweet vol. 1, dropped in early April, featuring a collaboration with U.K. soul singer Jorja Smith (who’ll be performing at the Santa Barbara Bowl with Kali Uchis on May 17).

When much of the best and most innovative music of our time is black neo-soul, Oshun stands out with its far-reaching message. The duo’s very name evokes a liberating feminine divinity, and in their words and beats one can find plenty of room to heal, reflect, realize, actualize — and dance, of course. Rarely do artists so consciously venerate spiritual and cultural traditions with a look and feel so ahead of the curve, but Oshun has a way with unity; they’re uniters themselves.

The talent overflows on this lineup. Jaji Preme and Jupiter Black represent free-thinking lyricism and artful individuality. Music lovers, free-thinkers, and general appreciators of cool things will find much to enjoy at this awesome show. See you there!

AND THEN, BREN!  Speaking of UCSB, the day prior, Brengrass, the official band of the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, brings its bluegrass to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Thursday, May 9, at 8 p.m. with the locally grown, bluegrass/new-grass six-piece Salty Strings. Defying old divisions and categories between arts and sciences, or between personal and professional, these acts alike show just the kind of creative breadth and depth sparkling just beneath the surface appearance of many of our community’s brightest minds. And most importantly, word on the State Street is that they both put on a really great show. Go out to support some excellent local music and be prepared to enjoy yourself.

INTERNET ON THE INTERNET:  Speaking of excellent area music, S.B.’s Internet has just released a new album of joyfully jangly and charmingly cheeky indie-rock titled Semicolon Forward Slash. The group’s bouncy music pairs synths, guitars, and lovely melodies into something that’s both effortlessly catchy and colorfully zany. Internet’s songs are rendered in brisk pieces that move quickly and brightly, not unlike the experience of happily zipping through the web tabs of their namesake networks, featuring fun titles such as “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in Front of a Drunk Man with a Book of Poems.” Check it out on Bandcamp. 


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